‘Man for All Seasons’ well-done drama

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By MARY FLEMING

The lights dimmed and the show ended. Instead of bursting out in loud applause, the audience sat still for a moment. We tried to comprehend the magnitude of what we had just witnessed.

Wednesday evening, “A Man for All Seasons,” directed by David Morgan, opened in the Margetts Arena Theater in the HFAC. The historical drama, written by Robert Bolt, is set in the early 1500s when King Henry VIII was England’s king.

Bolt studies Sir Thomas More, friend to the king and chancellor of England.

The king decides to divorce his wife, lady Catherine. To accomplish this, the king must break away from the Catholic church. He asks More’s support in this decision as More is reputed for his honesty and fair judgement.

But More is also a man of God. Supporting the king’s decision means More would have to sign an oath of agreement. Believing the divorce to be a sin, More cannot deny his conscience. He will not take the oath.

The play opens with a scene between two friends, Sir Thomas More (James Claflin) and Richard Rich (Jeff Hanson). More is a respected law man and judge. Rich wants that life of office. More counsels him to be a teacher because the temptations of the law are great. Rich doesn’t listen. He is determined to succeed at any price.

While More refuses to bow to his King before his God, Richard sells his innocence for the praise of England. Claflin portrays More’s inner struggle with dignity and humor. Claflin’s interpretation of More’s wit masks the pain evident in his every look.

On one scene, More’s family is permitted to visit him in jail. For three minutes. As the jailer (Daniel Hess) rips More’s wife, Alice, (Tavya Patch) from his arms, he apologizes by saying he is only a common man and doesn’t want to get into trouble.

More sinks back in his cell. He is unable to support the weight alone. In a cry of agony toward heaven, he exclaims, “Oh, sweet Jesus. These plain simple men!”

More’s family is gone. His fortune spent. Even his books were taken away from his cell. To obtain the title of Attorney General of Wales, Richard Rich lies under oath. For his purgery, More is condemned to death. As Rich steps down from his testimony, More gasps, “Why Richard, it profits a man nothing to give his soul for the world … But for Wales!”

A commendable performance from each cast member. Children may get restless in the two and a half hour show, but for all adults, you must not miss the play.

Unfortunately, tickets are currently sold out for all shows.

Jessica Jensen, a freshman from Newark, Calif. with an open major who works at the ticket office said those who want tickets have two options: they may first come to the ticket office one hour before the show.

The department sometimes releases extra tickets, she said.

If there are no tickets, hopefuls may go down to the theater and get on a standby list. At 7:25 p.m. if there are still open seats, they can be sold Jensen said.

“A Man for All Seasons” plays Tuesdays through Saturdays through Feb. 6 at 7:30 p.m. There will be a 2 p.m. matinee Jan. 30

Tickets cost $7 for BYU students and faculty and $9 for general admission.

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